Congregations Participate in ‘Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS’
Churches around the nation this week are holding programs and organizing initiatives for the Balm in Gilead's 18th annual national "Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS." Summaries of news coverage highlighting activities in Florida and Texas appear below.
- Miami, Fla.: More than 20 black churches in the Miami area are commemorating the week by hosting prayer summits, distributing condoms and informational material, offering HIV tests, and establishing counseling ministries and support groups for those with HIV/AIDS, the Miami Herald reports. According to the Herald, while some Catholic and Episcopal churches have been active in HIV/AIDS awareness since the late 1980s and early 1990s, "black and evangelical congregations have been slow to respond to the crisis." Pansy Rose -- administrative director of Care Inc., an AIDS ministry at Pentecostal Tabernacle in Miami Gardens -- said many black church officials initially believed that HIV/AIDS was the consequence of promiscuity or drug abuse but since have begun targeting the disease as one that affects the entire community. Teresa Lyles Holmes, a spokesperson for Balm in Gilead, said, "The churches are seeing now that they really do have to get involved" (Alter, Miami Herald, 3/3).
- Fort Worth, Texas: An organized week of prayer, called "7 Days, 7 Churches," will include events such as candlelight vigils, youth rallies and silent prayer, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The Rev. Valda Combs, who organized the local event, said 10 churches will take part in this year's efforts, which are being sponsored locally by the Tarrant County AIDS Interfaith Network. She said some churches are still reluctant to participate in the events, despite the HIV/AIDS statistics in the black community. The Rev. L.S. Wilson, a pastor at the East St. Paul Baptist Church, said, "The church is a life-saving station, to rescue the perishing and care for the dying," adding, "I think there's been some apathy, but compassion needs to be extended" (Goodrich, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 3/5).